Sorry. Not going to cut it.
As adorable as the letter is, it will likely fall on deaf ears throughout much of the community, as it should, as the letter does nothing to atone for the team's recent failures.
The sentiment is nice, no doubt. The franchise clearly recognizes that it once again failed to live up to the expectations of its passionate fan base, and it understands that patience is running thin for the fans who've watched their beloved Leafs miss out on the playoffs for seven straight years. But issuing a letter of apology, while nice in theory, should do nothing but evoke more frustration in the Toronto faithful.
The seven straight years that the Leafs have missed the postseason come in a sport in which more than half the league makes the big dance, showing just how poorly the team has performed since the lockout. And the blame can be placed on everyone, from the top down.
Brian Burke took over as Toronto's president and general manager in 2008 after three-plus years in Anaheim, where the Ducks won a Stanley Cup under his guidance. He didn't exactly take over a powerhouse, with the Leafs already floundering, but it's hard to draw many positives from what's transpired since Burke took over north of the border.
Patience is a virtue, but it's also something that evaporates over time.
Surely, though, Burke isn't the only one who deserves criticism. In fact, the Leafs looked poised to make a playoff run this season, sitting at 28-19-6 on Feb. 6, fresh off a 5-0-1 streak. What happened from then on, though, can only be described as an epic collapse. The Leafs went 7-18-4 in their final 29 games to finish 13th in the Eastern Conference and essentially rip the hearts out of Leafs fans everywhere.
But as embarrassing as that finish is, and as embarrassing as it is to finish better than fourth in the Northeast Division just once since 2004, the recent letter of apology takes things to a "you've got to be kidding me" level.
The letter — signed by Maple Leafs chairman Lawrence Tanenbaum — calls this past season "unacceptable," noting that results are the only measure of success in sports.
Tanenbaum is dead-on with that cutting-edge analysis, which is what makes the letter as unacceptable as the season itself. If the Leafs want to go out and atone for their mistakes and the misery they've caused some of the greatest hockey fans in the world over the past seven years, the strides need to come from the product on the ice.
"The Toronto Maple Leafs are a public trust with the greatest fans in the world," read the letter released Monday. "We have fallen short of everyone's expectations, and for that we are sorry. We take full responsibility for how this team performs on the ice, and we make no excuses."
That's good, because it's gotten to a point where there are no excuses. But words can't describe how frustrated and disappointed Leafs fans are with this season and the six that came before it, so why bother trying to make amends with such?
Until playoff hockey returns to Toronto, the optimism will be replaced with skepticism, and no letter should change that.
Here's a look at the complete apology issued by the Maples Leafs to their fans.
Photo via Twitter/@twinky_sukhija
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